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wide plain of Jezreel, at no great distance from Nazareth and Cana;
and it is said of it, that if there is any thing beautiful in nature, it is this green and rounded mountain-pyramid of Palestine. Its summit is full three thousand paces in circumference, and presents one of the most extensive and charming prospects to be found in the world. To the right, the eye,
after contemplating mount Carmel, that ancient scene of Jehovah's glory, looks over the vast extent of the Mediterranean sea. Northwards appears the glittering snowy cupola of Hermon, with the black ridge of Lebanon beneath it. Towards the south, the eye first rests
the beautiful verdure of luxuriant vineyards and orange groves, and further on, upon the mountains of Samaria ; whilst to the left, gleams the sea of Tiberias, intersecting the waving corn-fields of the plain of Esdraelon. But why do we cast our looks into the distance, when something nearer at hand, of a far more interesting nature, calls for our attention ?
The apostles subsequently called the mount of transfiguration, “ the holy mount.” Yes, those are holy places, and must ever be so esteemed by us, where we once could say with Jacob, “ I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.” There are our Bethels and Peniels, where he whispered to our souls, “I have loved thee with an everlasting love !” or where he wiped away our tears, and crowned our supplications with his Amen. Such places are consecrated in our esteem. They are lovely spots in this vale of tears; and he that has
of them, is truly rich !
Jesus commences the journey to the mount, followed by his three disciples. As the ascent required about a day, we may suppose the sun to have already set, and the evening twilight to have commenced, by the time they arrived at the summit. Solemn silence reigns all around. The disciples-weary with the journey, and at the same time mentally exercised by the conversation on the way, and by their solemn situation with the Saviour alone, in the silence of night, on the solitary inountrecline themselves upon the ground, and sink into slumber. The Saviour prays to his eternal Father. What was the particular subject of his prayer the history does not inform us; but it might be similar to that in John xii. “Father, glorify thy name !” or in John xvii. “ And now, O Father, glorify thou me with the glory which I had with thee, before the
world was ; -that they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee !” How sublime ! how affecting! The Prince of life on his knees, before the face of the Almighty ! the Son of the living God engaged in holy converse with the Eternal Father, on the dark mountain-height! Surely, if ever the words, “stana at a distance !” were appropriate, it was here. And what ensues when Immanuel prays ? His prayer must be successful. It is high as heaven in its ascent from the heart of the Son of man. And yet he is ever willing to mingle your supplications with his own intercession, and thus to give them full effect. You know how he said to his disciples, “Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you.”
Jesus prays; and what is the result ? All at once it seems to the sleepers as if a bright light were playing about their
eyelids, and as if the sound of a conversation penetrated down into the depths of their slumber. They stir—they awake; and well might they conjecture, in their sudden surprise, that the night was past, that the sun was in the highest blaze of noon. They look about them with amazement. But, oh! what an incomparable spectacle! Behold him! behold him! Is that shining one yonder indeed their Master ? Is the majestic figure which appears arrayed in Divine glory, he in whose company they ascended the mountain ? The disciples are overcome with the sight. But it is not alarm or terror that they feel. This is not a Sinai, so as to cause them to say, “I exceedingly fear and quake.” The glory here breathes only peace and joy. The heart is enlarged by it—the soul would gladly be entirely absorbed in it. Let our souls then be absorbed with the contemplation of this glory. Let our spirits rejoice in its wondrous light, and receive health and salvation. Oh how beautiful and glorious does He appear, the fairest of the children of men, who is not only the King of John, or of Peter, or of James, but my King also, and thine, my brother, my sister !--Hallelujah ! Here is indeed more than Solomon in all his glory; here is more then Aaron and Melchisedek! When did ever a star shine on our benighted world like this ! When brake ever a sun through the darkness of the earth, like this! O incomparable brightness, which forces angels to fall on their knees and adore, and makes sinners rejoice and be glad ! “ This is my Beloved, and this is my friend, O ye daughters of Jerusalem.” Oh, contemplate the King in his beauty! Behold, there he stands ! He himself is the Sun in the kingdom of spirits ; bears the source and fulness of light in Himself.— There he stands on the solitary summit;—and not He only, but the disciples also partake of the splendour of His transfiguration. Here we can in some measure anticipate, how the words of St. John, concerning the city of God, will come to pass :
“ And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the
glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof," Rev. xxi. 23. Here also we have the key to that other saying: “It doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.”
“ And Jesus was transfigured before them;" more literally, “He transfigured himself." The expression implies, that the glory was not shed upon the Lord externally; but, as existing in him from the beginning, it only broke forth outwardly in the manifestation. Even then, whilst he still lay in the manger, as an infant, poor, and requiring assistance, and whilst labouring as the carpenter's son, the whole fulness of the Godhead dwelt in him bodily, though concealed and veiled behind the curtain of a servant's form. Single rays of this hidden glory had occasionally emanated from him, in deeds of omnipotent mercy, so that all who saw it were astonished, and said, “What manner of man is this? From whence is he?” But such an expansion of the rose of Sharon, as this on the mount, had none yet witnessed. Such a discovery of his hidden glory and majesty had hitherto not been made. But however indescribable, and beyond all earthly splendour, this glory was, it was not the whole fulness of his beauty as the Son of God. In comparison with that glory, in which he will eventually meet us above, it was probably only as the early dawn compared with the perfect day. For he manifested his beauty only as far as mortals could apprehend and bear it. But since the whole scene on this sacred mount was only a manifestation of the glory which Jesus had in himself, therefore St. John, partly perhaps in allusion to this very event, speaks of the Word made flesh, tabernacling among us, as the Shechinah, “ full of grace and truth.” The glory, in which he there appeared to them, was nothing borrowed, but his own most peculiar and real form; it was the visible reflection of the corporeal indwelling fulness of God, and consequently, a manifestation full of truth. But for what reason John calls this manifestation of the Son of God, a revelation “full of grace," he himself must tell us, in order that we may completely comprehend it. The glory here manifested was a benign glory, a transporting reflection of pure kindness and love. Streams of peace flowed into the disciples' hearts ; sweet and sabbatic repose breathed around them, and every ray that fell from his countenance upon them, affected their souls as a new expression of the love of God. No wonder that Peter exclaimed, “ Lord, it is good for us to be here !” They would gladly have remained, for ever remained, in this beatifying irradiation of Christ.
We leave the summit of the holy mount, in order soon to return thither with our meditation. Keep firm hold in spirit of the glory which has there beamed upon you. It will be to your faith and your love that which the vernal sun is to the first buds of nature. And what a blissful light does this scene reflect upon those
great words of Jesus, “ Father, I will that they whom thou hast given me be with me where I am, that they may behold my glory which thou hast given me !” What a meaning does it supply to that other promise, “ The righteous shall shine forth as the sun, in the kingdom of their Father!” Oh let us now by faith build here a tabernacle for our souls! Let the summit of the holy mount be our oratory and our watch-tower !
XXX.-THE HOLY EMBASSY.
MATTHEW XVII. 3, 4. “And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with
him. Then answered Peter, and said unto Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias.”
Thus we stand again upon the holy mount—all around a solemn silence—before us, the King in his beauty. We would gladly yield up our minds to the contemplation of his glory ; when, lo! a new appearance attracts our notice. There are three subjects, which at present claim our attention : I. The heavenly embassy; II. Their converse with the Saviour; and, III. Simon Peter's request.
I. The disciples stand in adoring astonishment, and in a kind of beatified contemplation of their glorified Master. But, all at once, new amazement overtakes them ; for they behold two other personages
beside the Lord Jesus. We can imagine the surprise of the disciples. “Who are they," would they think, “and whence do they come ? Did we not ascend the mountain with Him alone ? And besides, these are not mortals, whom we behold ;—the crown of life is already on their heads.
-And behold, the Saviour begins to converse with these venerable strangers. The disciples listen, and find the one to be Moses, the other Elijah, possibly from hearing Jesus call them by their names. But how must this information have increased their astonishment! They must have felt almost as if the earth had retreated from beneath their feet; and as if eternity had overtaken them unawares. For now they are certain that they behold, face to face, two happy citizens of the invisible world. One of them was now fifteen hundred years old, and yet fair and flourishing as a green palm tree, in eternal youth. It is Moses himself that here stands before us, he that was king in Jeshurun, the man who “esteemed the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt, for he had respect to the